Saturday, June 20, 2009

What to wear (Z Kit)

Doggie shenanigans at Chateau Palette have quieted somewhat, so once again I return to discussing the Z Kit. Today's topic: Appropriate Armageddon Attire, or What to Wear to the Zombie Apocalypse.

Some of you may wonder why I'm discussing clothing before food or medical supplies, and the reason is simple: it takes you three weeks to starve to death, and if you're smart you won't need a medical kit for quite a while, but if you're improperly dressed for the terrain, the weather, or the catastrophe, you could die in a matter of minutes. Think of it as a shelter that you wear.

Take a look at what the Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook has to say about clothing:
Explorer's Outfit: This is a full set of clothes for someone who never knows what to expect. It includes sturdy boots, leather breeches or a skirt, a belt, a shirt (perhaps with a vest or jacket), gloves, and a cloak... The clothes have plenty of pockets (especially the cloak). The outfit also includes any extra items you might need, such as a scarf or a wide-brimmed hat.

That's a sensible list, so let's apply it to our modern Z Kit.
  • Boots: Some folks would suggest a hiking boot, like a Wolverine or Timberland. There may be something to that, but for my money, nothing beats military-surplus combat boots. They are tough as hell, waterproof, warm, give great ankle support, and while I wouldn't want to test it I suspect they may resist snake bites. I've had mine since 1991 and they're still going strong. About the only thing I can't do in them is swim.
  • Pants: Leather is durable, but it can get hot. You want something lightweight but tough, so you've got basically two choices: buy some overpriced "trail pants" or get a decent set of BDUs/ACUs. They aren't at all fashionable (unless you're into military chic) but they get the job done and (assuming you don't get a cheap knockoff) they're worth every penny you pay for them (usually around $15)
  • Belt: I'm not really a big believer in belts, but if you are, might I suggest the Paracord Survival Belt? That way you can carry over a hundred feet of rope (double the Standard Dungeon Delver amount) whilst simultaneously keeping your pants up.
  • Gloves: A good pair of gardening or woodworking gloves will keep your hands warm while protecting them. I also have a kevlar oven mitt, because you never know when you may need to pick up something very hot. In fact, I should probably get another just to have a matching set.
  • Vest/Jacket: The safari/ tactical/ hunting vest has tons and tons of pockets and you can get one practically anywhere. I recommend one made with ripstop fabric and ventilation mesh.
  • Cloak: The modern version of this is a poncho. It keeps you dry and warm-ish. You can get one at any department store, and there are cheap pocket (disposable) versions that cost less than a dollar.
  • Scarf: Oh, a scarf has a dozen uses aside from keeping your neck and face warm. It can be used as a sling, a rope, a bandage, a bandana... it's like a towel from the Hitchiker's books. I went a bit higher-tech and got a black sniper veil, because it makes a wonderful accessory when I go to goth clubs.
  • Hat: The ever-popular boonie hat has a wide brim, a chin strap, and if you got the good kind, is waterproof. (If not, waterproof it tout suite.)
Sensible and logical conversions, but this list is missing a few things. You also need:
  • At least three days worth of socks and underwear, kept in a waterproof bag. Because sweetheart, you don't know misery until you've been in the driving rain for 8 hours and you have no dry clothes to change into as you struggle to keep warm.
  • A mylar survival blanket. Get this at the same time you're getting the disposable poncho and put them in the same pocket. You can also get this in the sleeping bag and tent versions as well. You may rightly call me paranoid, but I have all three.
  • A magnesium fire starter, because if Survivor has taught us anything it is "Fire is Life."
All right! You are now properly attired to dance the Apocalypso.


  1. The gear you wear depends on the terrain.

    If you try gardening/working gloves in the Swedish winter you'll freeze your hands off fast.
    And they get wet easily, which is even worse.

    Best investment I ever made was a pair of elkskin leather gloves (tougher than deerskin) with a thin-ish woolen liner.
    Treat them (beeswax mixed with tallow works for me) to keep them sort of water-resistant. Wool lining means that they provide warmth even if they get wet.

    Of course such gloves are for temperate climates. Once the temperature drops to -20C you better go Inuit.

    P.S: I like belts. Great for attaching stuff to them.
    That and making sure that your pants stay up.

  2. Good point about the gloves.

    I suppose I also should have mentioned that if it's in the middle of winter, you need to have a decent coat or else you'll freeze, but I expected my readers to already know this. :)

    Belts are all right if you insist on wearing pants all the time...

  3. Extra shoelaces. Whatever size is appropriate for the shoe/boots you are wearing (I swear by Doc Martin 8-hole steel-toes)and the longest bootlaces you can get. Never know when you will need some strong cording.

    As for gloves, a good hardware store will have framers gloves. Leather palm, stretch nylon back with leather reinforcing. Not good for cold, but great for protection and grip.


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